Friday, March 11, 2016

He who sins condemns himself

Sin is one of the topics discussed greatly, not only by the faithful and the majority of people within or outside the Church, but also by the Church Fathers, who explain what it truly is, how it affects us and what we need to do to stay away from its embrace. St John Chrysostom described here the fact that sin condemns the sinner, showing that we should not follow this route, but strive for a better life, closer to God. He explains:

‘He who commits sin himself condemns himself even if no one else accuses him. He does this not once only, or twice, but often, and continues through his whole life. Even if a long time passes, the conscience never forgets what has happened, but even during the commission of the sin, and before and after it is committed, the conscience stands against us as a vehement accuser – especially after the commission. While we are in the act of sinning we do not perceive as keenly because we are made drunk by the pleasure; but when it is done and reaches its end, then especially, after all the pleasure is quenched, the bitter goad of repentance comes upon us, just the opposite of women in labour. In their case before the birth great and unbearable effort and sharp pains torture them with suffering, but after the birth comes relief, when the baby is brought forth through the anguish. In the case of sin it is different. As long as we are in travail and are conceiving our corrupt purposes, we take pleasure and enjoy ourselves; but when we have brought forth the evil child, our sin, then we suffer at the sight of our shameful offspring, then we are tortured more grievously than women in labour. For this reason I beg you not to accept a corrupt desire from its very beginning. If we do accept it, we must choke its seeds within. But if we are remiss even this far, as the sinful desire goes forth into action we must kill it by confession and tears, by accusing ourselves.’[1]

[1] Behr, John (ed.), St John Chrysostom – On Wealth and Poverty, (New York, SVSP, 1981), pp.88-9.

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